Mr Maclean was speaking following the publication of the latest research into public anxiety about crime. Mr Maclean said:
'Fear of crime can be as damaging as crime itself. Both erode the quality of life of law-abiding citizens and are a blight on communities across the country.
'The best way to tackle fear of crime is to tackle crime itself and that is what we are doing.
'In particular, the introduction of closed circuit television in many towns and cities has contributed to the prevention and detection of crime and to the reduction of anxiety about crime.
'People feel more confident about using their town centres and high streets when they know that someone is looking out for their safety.
'In addition, police operations, including Bumblebee, Eagle Eye and Christmas Cracker, have targeted crimes which worry the public, such as burglary and mugging.
'We shall continue to pursue a comprehensive strategy to combat crime. Carefully targeted crime prevention work, close co-operation between the police and local communities and effective punishment of offenders will help to reduce crime and anxiety about crime.'
The research shows that:
-- people worry most about burglary, rape and vehicle crime
-- both direct experience as a victim and knowing victims of crime fuel worry about crime
-- the proportion of the public very worried about mugging showed no significant change between 1984 and 1994, rising one percentage point to 21%
-- anxiety about burglary was a little higher in 1994 than it was in 1984, with the proportion of the public very worried about burglary rising from 23% to 26%
-- worry about vehicle crime increased significantly between 1988 and 1994. The proportion very worried about such crime rose from 20% in 1988 to 28% in 1994 for theft of cars and from 16% to 22% for theft from cars
-- the proportion of the public feeling very unsafe out alone after dark was much the same in 1994 as it was in 1984, rising by one percentage point over that period to 13 per cent
-- only seven per cent of people said that they never went out after dark. Of these most gave their reason as infirmity, lack of inclination or practical obstacles, such as having to look after children
-- anxiety about crime was given as the main reason for never going out after dark by less than two per cent of people
The research is based on the British Crime Survey conducted early in 1994 - at the start of the sharpest fall in crime on record. Crime fell by 572,000 offences from July 1993 to June 1995, the largest ever fall in recorded crime over a two-year period.
Burglary fell by 12% between July 1993 and June 1995, while vehicle crime fell by 17%.
The 1996 British Crime Survey will cover trends in public anxiety about crime since 1994.
Anxiety About Crime: findings from the 1994 British Crime Survey is published today. The report, by Michael Hough, Professor of Social Policy at South Bank University, is summarised in Home Office Research Findings No 25.